Long-term perspective on the relationship between phytoplankton and nutrient concentrations in a southeastern Australian estuary

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Journal Article
Marine Pollution Bulletin, 2017, 114 (1), pp. 227 - 238
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Larsson et al. 2016.pdfPublished Version1.43 MB
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© 2016 Elsevier Ltd Sixteen years (1997–2013) of physicochemical, nutrient and phytoplankton biomass (Chlorophyll-a (Chl-a)) data and a decade (2003-2013) of phytoplankton composition and abundance data were analyzed to assess how the algal community in a temperate southeastern Australian estuary has responded to decreased chronic point source nitrogen loading following effluent treatment upgrade works in 2003. Nitrogen concentrations were significantly lower (P < 0.05) following enhanced effluent treatment and Chl-a levels decreased (P < 0.05) during the warmer months. Temperature and nutrient concentrations significantly influenced temporal changes of Chl-a (explaining 55% of variability), while salinity, temperature, pH and nutrient concentrations influenced phytoplankton abundance and composition (25% explained). Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) dynamics differed between sites likely influenced by physical attributes of the estuary. This study demonstrates that enhanced effluent treatment can significantly decrease chronic point source nitrogen loading and that Chl-a concentrations can be lowered during the warmer months when the risk of blooms and HABs is greatest.
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